SUB-HEADING: "Around 20 per cent of psychologists acting as expert witnesses for the family courts are not qualified, according to a Channel 4 News investigation broadcast tonight, writes producer Phil Carter."
GIST: "Channel 4 News spoke to families across the country involved in court proceedings and heard time and again concerns about the experts used by the courts to determine whether children are at risk and should be removed from their birth parents. But because of the secrecy of the family courts - designed to protect the identity of the children at the heart of proceedings - the experts used have largely been beyond scrutiny. This research is the first time these concerns have been to some degree independently substantiated. The research found serious concerns across a range of issues beyond the startling finding that around a fifth of so-called psychologist expert witnesses are not qualified. The assessments of the expert reports found that some 20 per cent of the psychologists were working beyond their area of knowledge; around a third had no experience of mental health assessments; and some 90 per cent of experts were not in current practice. The net result was that the research concluded that around 65 per cent of expert reports in the study were of either 'poor' or 'very poor' quality. Professor Ireland told Channel 4 News: "I think we were very concerned and perturbed by some of the reports that we read, not just in terms of qualification but also the quality of the reports that we read ...Prof Ireland and her team were given unprecedented access to psychologists' expert witness reports from three undisclosed courts across England by the FJC, an arm's length body of the Ministry of Justice. Experts play a critical role in family court cases: research suggests that at least one expert is used in 90 per cent of public law children's proceedings and many cases involve three or more experts...The findings are based on research published on Wednesday for the Family Justice Council (FJC). It was led by Professor Jane Ireland, a forensic psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire. Prof Ireland and her team were given unprecedented access to psychologists' expert witness reports from three undisclosed courts across England by the FJC, an arm's length body of the Ministry of Justice...Nigel Priestley, a lawyer closely involved in family proceedings, tolof the gravity of the research's findings. "After the death penalty the most draconian act that the state can do is remove a family's child," he said. "What is at stake for many carers is the loss of their children and on the basis of a report which might or indeed might not be questionable."THE ENTIRE STORY CAN BE FOUND AT:
I am monitoring the aftermath of the Family Justice Council report: Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.
The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:
Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.